The Stainless Steel '60 Tbirds
My intent was to create a new thread for just the SS car stuff and move the posts over into this thread. But I found out that I cant move individual posts without moving the whole thread. I dont want to do that because that thread was mostly about the Last Day Last Car.. So lets post anything further regarding the SS cars here in this thread.
Cathie sent me some information that validates what Kev said in a post about that magazine that said the 2 SS '60 Tbirds were built on July 11, 1960. Here you will find a link the Allegheny-Ludlum's website. There THEY say the cars were built on that date! They oughta know! They had them build in conjunction with Ford, Budd Body Co, and Creative Industries. I think it was the latter who bullt them for Budd.
"I CAN tell you, the SS birds were not stamped out at wixom, they were indeed built by Allegheny and Creative - I posted at least one link on that IN the SS thread...then shipped to wixom for the rest of the build.
There's another link I posted on another thread as well, about the SS birds
Here are the links:
Now the question becomes, at what point did Budd/Creative Industries build the shells and the panels for them? It appears it was after the BUDD production runs for the regular Tbirds was done. Or did they? They might have run these shells and panels on different tooling. They certainly had more than one set of tooling, dies, stampers, etc.
Budd made the shells for the regular Tbirds, and I gather the panels, did the welding of them to the frame and when done, shipped them off to the Wixom plant for finishing on the Tbird line. Wixom received the shells and processed them for input into the line. Both Alan and Phil Skinner have commented on this.
Here is some information on the Budd Body Co.
1954, the company introduced the first all-plastic bodied automobile for Studebaker. Budd was credited with developing unitized body construction during the 1930's, 3 decades before it was widely accepted. The following year, Ford contracted Budd to build the bodies for its new Thunderbird. The Thunderbird was a huge success, and Budd's auto stamping sales began to rebound. During the 1950s, Budd continued to produce automobile bodies, shipped to the manufacturers ready for painting;
from page 56 of William Wonder's Thunderbird Restoration Guide:
Perhaps the most unique 1960 models ever produced, however, would be those ordered by the Allegheny Ludlum Steel Corporation in July 1960, near the end of the production run. Two stainless steel versions of the production 'Bird hardtop were produced at a reported cost in excess of $35,000 . These agless 'Birds were produced on the regular production line of the Wixom, Michigan plant.
More than 1,000 dies produced over 300 stainless steel components used in the fabrication of each car, including bumpers grilles and exhaust. Bodies were fabricated on the regular production dies at the Budd Co in Detroit, using stainless steel featuring a special satin finish, not unlike the later Deloreans. Being the end of the regular production run, and sinde 1960s ended the Thunderbird's third year of the second generation body style, these dies would no longer be needed and were ultimately, and unfortunately, destroyed during the production of these two "ageless" 1960 Thunderbirds.
The bumpers and additional trim featured mirror polished stainless steel. Polishing cost alone for these exterior components was reportely $3000 per car. The Thunderbird's normal weight of 3957 pounds was duplicated by using Type 302 stainless for the body panels and Type 430 for the trim. Because the maximum rolling mill for stainless only produced stock that was 72 inches in width, numerous ideas were tried, and an expenditure of $10,000 was made in attempt to obtain the 84 inch width required to form the Thunderbird's roof panel. Eventually two 42 inch sections were welded together to form the roof, with only a very faint trace line visible.
These stainless 'Birds, based in Pittsburgh and Detroit,, were used for automotive shows and special exhibitions throughout the United States and most of Euorope. The Pittsburgh car has appeared in over 30 parades and racked up some 120,000 miles, traveling one coast to the other several times. The Detroit car has also appeared in numerous shows and parades and has logged approximately 80,000 miles, including one trip to the West Coast. Both cars are in excellent condition today, requiring only minor tuneups and an occasional wash with soap and water.
Although both cars received interior and mechanical restorations in the early to mid 80s, with various components such as valve covers and wheel covers being replaced with non stock items over the years, the two stainless Birds will inevitably outlast all their model year predecessors, remaining timeless and shining examples of Ford's personal luxury leader for 1960!
note: page 55 has a picture beloning to Alan Tast of one of them.
Ray, I am not convinced there was more than one set of dies. Dies are terribly expensive to create and, if only used for 3 years, durable enough. If making the two SS cars destroyed them, that reaffirms my feeling. However, as always, that's just an opinion.
Maybe we could track down William Wonder!!
ps the online sampling of Wonder's book does not have this material so I copied it for everyone to read.
The Stainless Steel '60 Tbirds
Earlier this afternoon, I had a lengthy, enjoyable and very informative conversation with Gene Makrancy, author, photographer and chronicler of these stainless steel Ford cars. He will be sending me some 30 pictures of these cars in various stages of being built, along with a brochure. He has made a number of trips to Allegheny-Ludlum for interviews and photo shoots. While on one of the latter a few years ago, he actually got to drive one of the Tbirds for a short distance. He has confirmed a number of things that have been said by Alan and others. But first of all, here is something that Phil sent me last night.
"It has long been a misconception that these were the last cars off the assembly line. While the tooling may have been damaged (it was NOT) from the stainless process, remember that there were often more than one set of tools, especially when pumping out nearly 100,000 copies.
When talking with Gene, he confirmed that, surprisingly, the tooling was NOT damaged by the process according to what he was told. He also confirmed some other things. As Phil said, these SS cars were NOT the last cars through the Wixom line. They were put through on July 11, 1960, just as Allegheny-Ludlim said. The shells and panels were made prior to that, at the end of the Budd Body Co.'s production run. And therein lies the misleading story all these years about these Tbirds being run at the end of the WIXOM production run.
According to Gene, Budd had run all the remaining shells, panels, welded them to the shells, and stock piled them for use in the July, August, and September scheduled runs. So, sometime before July 11th, they ran the production run for the SS cars. The final '60 Tbirds to come out of the Budd line. A lot of the work had to be hand done after the shells and panels were cut. When completed, they were sent on to the Wixom line to be inserted into the processing stream. He said that it caused quite a lot of excitement on the line when they started processing through. But, except for the finish, they were just like any other Tbird and they went about their job of finishing them off as they traveled down the line. I will have pictures soon showing them or the '66 Lincolns going down the line with Tbirds ahead or behind them.. Maybe the same with the '60 SS Tbird run. I will post the pictures when I get them from Gene.
Let me see what else I can tell you. We had a long conversation. Oh, I think this was interesting. He said after the '66 Lincolns were built, someone decided to hold one up because the '67's were coming out soon and they wanted to show off one as a '67. So they put some '67 parts on one of them to make it look like a '67. That is why, he said, if you look at one of them, it will be different from the other two.
He also said these Lincolns were sent to a car dealership in PA for testing and evaluation. The PA State Police were involved in the safety evaluations and would not allow them to pass inspection because they were to bright and flashy! They insisted that their finish be dulled because they were concerned about them being so flashy and reflecting light so much that they could cause accidents. So the cars had to be scrubbed and their surfaces dulled to the point where they could pass inspection! This process cost either $3,000 or $5,000 per car. I do not remember which.
He also confirmed that the bumpers, grills and their trimmings were NOT chrome, but stainless steel polished to look like chrome. He said these cars have been redone several times to update and keep them in good shape, but those who own them now seem to not be paying a lot of attention to them any longer, which is a shame.
He also told me that not only were there these cars made in stainless steel but that there were several trucks also made. However, the company who bought out the company who owned them did not want to bother with them. They considered it an unneeded expense and scrapped them!:eek:
Well, my brain is about fried trying to remember everything he told me, but this is a good part of it. I hope you enjoy these comments passed on to me. Here are several pictures I already had. They probably have been posted before on here, but I figured I would put them in this dedicated SS post for posterity. More pictures to follow when I get them.
I really appreciate you follow up on this. It confirms everything I have been saying and also expands greatly on our knowledge of how cars were built. Hawkrod
Once again, Thank you very much for your diligent, hard work! You are a bulldog! I have learned so much about the SS cars. Most of what I was told in the past were the false rumors you stated above. I feel this has gone a long way to keeping this important part of the squarebird alive and well AS FACT! MY printer and photo paper are ANXTIOUSLY AWAITING THOSE PHOTOS!!!!!!!!
I spoke with a local friend who's currently the ITC historian about the SS '60's. He personally helped with restoration on one of them...
"About the Stainless '60s. Allegheny Ludlum produced 2 of these at the end of the '60 production run. They knew that the stainless steel was much harder and more likely to damage or wear out the molds. One was supposed to have been stored in a time vault. The other spent quite a bit of time touring the country advancing the benefits of stainless steel. In the end it was quite worn out and really needed a restoration. Members of the VTCI did so in the early 80's and it made its debut at the 1983 VTCI Eastern Regionals in Niagara Falls along with another stainless '66 Lincoln Continental convertible. The '60 needed everything but, of course, was rust free. It was the only car that had its finish buffed with steel wool! It still exists and is owned by Allegheny Ludlum.
William Wonder mentions Alan in the intro of his book....SO Alan.... :D
Do you know him...worthy of a track down?
The 'time vault' bird is SUPPOSEDLY a myth....I'll have to hunt up the article again....
I wondered that too (no pun) and made a stab at looking for him (Wonder) and got nowhere. The book shows him as having association with classic cars to the early 70s so he might be well retired as also not hooked up to the Internet. Yahoo people search revealed a few William Wonders but I don't even know his middle initial...
I did contact the publisher of the book asking for author information but have gotten no reply. As the book has a 1997 printing, their records might be poor, although it occurs to me he would still be getting royalities every time one of us buys a copy.
So that trail has not lead anywhere so far... :(
In light of the fact Wonder used Alan and others to do up his book, nor has written anything since....not saying he is without personal knowledge about birds.... but....
Anyone can regurgitate words and copy pictures, slap on a fancy intro and publish it....
I think you catch my drift, :D
I think if you read the Acknowledgment section right at the beginning of his book, you will see he did considerable research and work, using a wide variety of resources, including Alan. See page 4 at
The book is a true accomplishment and contribution to the hobby.
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